By J O Halliwell-Phillipps; N J Halpin
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Like Qamar, he too 'sees her in the mirror of his soul' when he finds in her 'a great intellect'. Exhausted and unfulfilled, he is lulled to sleep by the gentle music and soft singing which she orders to soothe his tired brain. Scene iii is the only one that does not take place at night. It is set in the King's Hall against the background of faint music from outside and the morning sun fills the whole area. The King, now resolved to go away alone on a journey of quest for knowledge, is making his final preparations for his travels.
Al-Hakim places the events in Tarsus and, following the Koran, makes the period of their sleep last three hundred years. Whereas the original legend had seven characters, for reasons of dramatic economy al-Hakim has limited his characters to three (and a dog): the Emperor's (King's) two ministers: Marnush, secretly married, with a son by a Christian woman, who was the cause of his conversion; Mishlinya, a younger man in love with the King's daughter, Prisca, who under his influence had undergone a clandestine conversion to Christianity; and a shepherd Yamllkha who had helped them to find the cave and who was accompanied by his dog Qatmlr.
MAIDEN (whispering): I don't know. MAGICIAN: Didn't I warn you not to go anywhere near this old slave? There is a wicked leer in his eyes. MAIDEN (whispering): He's not old... MAGICIAN: Don't talk to yourself like someone demented. Come, give me your hand and let's go in. Perhaps he's scared you with his ugly face. MAIDEN (whispering): He's not ugly . . ) SLAVE: O what a lovely virgin! A perfect refuge her body would be! Drama of ideas 37 VOICE (from behind him): Refuge for what? Satan or perhaps the sword?